First-Time Trail Runners
Some of us remember our fathers and grandfathers taking us on wild off-road adventures in a stock truck, Jeep, or station wagon. Most of these journeys were in unmodified vehicles, and these off-highway treks created incredible memories! Wheeling a bone-stock vehicle is fun, there's no denying it. It's true that a rig in factory form can't conquer the toughest trails in the county without major damage or being destroyed, but the potential is always there for exciting off-road adventures.
The staff here at 4-Wheel & Off-Road is on the trail in stock vehicles more than you think. Four-wheeling a stocker is more challenging and sharpens driving skills. Maneuvering an unmodified rig through tough terrain while not reducing it to a pile of scrap takes skill and finesse. If the vehicle is expected to drive off the trail, familiarization with the rig and understanding of simple vehicle dynamics are important. There are a few easy rules to follow to take your daily driver out for trail adventure.
If you are going to hit the trail in your factory vehicle for the first time, there are a few things you should do to avoid disaster. Getting yourself stranded on the trail is not only dangerous, but vehicle recovery can be very expensive.
Get to know your vehicle and familiarize yourself with the rig's exterior panels and undercarriage. Pay careful attention to the vehicle's low points, tow points, and critical areas like the engine and transmission pans and the bottom of the radiator if it's exposed. A little preparedness and knowledge go a long way on the trail.
A number of 4x4s are capable off-road in factory form. Check our list of favorite four-wheel-drive vehicles below. In this tough economy you may just find one to fit your budget.
The Staff's Top Four-Wheel-Drive Stockers
Ford Bronco (early or late models)
Hummer H1, H2, H3
Jeep (any early model!)
Jeep Cherokee XJ
Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ
Jeep Wrangler TJ
Jeep Wrangler TJ Rubicon
Jeep Wrangler JK Rubicon (2- and 4-door)
Military Surplus Trucks
Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota Pickup (early solid axle)
Toyota FJ Cruiser
Toyota FJ 40
Almost any 3/4 or 1-ton single rear wheel 4x4 pickup